Army of One

For centuries the skills of Shorinji Kempo, the barehanded martial arts – were not taught to anyone who had not entered the Buddhist priesthood. But a revised, expanded and uniquely systematized combination of its techniques and skills was established in post-war Japan. Its founder’s aim: to create a new kind of human. More than 60 years later around 1,700,000 students are studying the defensive art of Shorinji Kempo in 34 countries.  Its combination of hard and soft techniques makes it suitable for either sex, of any age and build. A member himself, Floris Leeuwenberg was the first non-Japanese photographer ever granted access to the HQ in Japan, an agreement brokered by his old friend and Sensei.


Text: Jules Marshall